With every release of a movie based on video game the question is often asked “is this the one that breaks the video game movie curse?” The video game movie curse is the phenomenon where there haven’t been any movies based on video games that have been genuinely great. And actually a majority are terrible to the point of being unwatchable. Yet the movie fandom (me included) get excited that just maybe THIS time Lucy isn’t going to move the football.
Anyone who watched the trailers for Sonic the Hedgehog probably didn’t have much hope about it breaking the curse. But maybe it would actually be decent like the latest Tomb Raider or even Detective Pikachu? Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case here. It’s not as bad as Pixels (few movies are, in my opinion), but there are very few circumstances where I would willingly watch it again.
Sonic stars Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz as the universe’s coolest hedgehog tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth with the local town good guy sheriff Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden. After Sonic gets the attention of the US government, our heroes go on an road trip to recover what Sonic needs to escape the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
The story that it follows is a bit odd and feels a lot like a Transformers film (excluding the brilliant Bumblebee), but with fart humor and less action. I’m really not sure why they decided to go with the hybrid human/CG route. Doing a purely animated film set in the world where Sonic hails from makes more sense to me, which is exactly what the upcoming Super Mario will do. And instead of learning from the pitfalls of the first Super Mario Bros movie (truly one of the worst films of all time), they almost embraced trying to do something similar.
Schwartz’s Sonic is relatable enough, but the characterization is so annoying, and not in the funny way that his role Jean-Raphael on Parks and Recreation is. It feels forced and overdone, which was sufficient to make me not care at all what happens to him. Which really is the problem here: trying to make a character that is supposed to be the embodiment of “cool” a slapstick bumbler really misses the mark.
Marsden has a way of showing up in really mediocre films, which would make sense why he was cast in this role. He’s a very charismatic actor who feels like a poor man’s Tom Cruise in this role. I felt bad for him, mostly because of some of the lines he had to deliver. He is probably the best part of the movie, which goes to show how misguided this adaptation is.
Jim Carrey simply phoned in his performance. Either that or the directors didn’t let him have his normal comedic freedom. I thought he would bring something more than what is shown off in the trailers, but his performance never rises above sub-par. We’ve seen him successfully bring comedic brilliance to children’s properties before, so I have to think he was hamstrung in some way.
One interesting thing that they did was have the composer, Junkie XL, integrate the musical themes from the actual video games into the film. I only noticed this near the beginning and near the end. The score overall was quite good, and the bits where they utilized the music from the games were the most effective.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, Sonic wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it could by no means be called good, either. My daughter did enjoy herself watching it, mostly because she is the target demographic.